The members of the Fairhope Industrial Association chose the name Fairhope when one of them commented that they had “good hopes of succeeding”. In 1904, the colony was renamed to the Fairhope Single Taxation Corporation. The City of Fairhope was established with around 500 residents in 1908, taking responsibility for all municipal services. In the 1930s, the city became the guardian of Fairhope's main assets: the beachfront park, the park grounds on a cliff above the beach, Henry George Park, Knoll Park, and the quarter-mile-long pier, all gifts from the unique fiscal colony, which still has an active presence in the city today. The story of Fairhope is one of hope and success, but there is an untold story of African Americans who have been part of this community for generations.
Before Fairhope Avenue and the pier, this was an agrarian community with large tracts of land owned by liberated black people, according to Rev. John Whitfield, founding pastor of New Zion Christian Church. It was originally Alabama City, a failed real estate development, according to the “Celebrating African American Heritage” video from Fairhope, Alabama. Hall-Black is filling notebooks with stories that her family transmits. Stories from the beginning of Fairhope, when “black people, mulattos and people of other nationalities owned land on the beachfront that was taken away by those who moved”, he said.
Paul Gaston, grandson of the founder of Fairhope, E. B. Gaston, grew up in Fairhope but left frustrated to fight racial inequality. He became professor of history at the University of Virginia in 1957, making a career telling the truth about the South and advocating for civil rights. In his essay “Irony in Utopia, The Discovery of Nancy Lewis” Paul Gaston wrote: “Local custom easily overrode abstract principles and Nancy Lewis was displaced”.
Gaston was committed to his grandfather's ideals of social justice even if they didn't come true at Fairhope. He wrote that his grandfather made it clear that the “white only” policy was a fundamental contradiction of the “good theory” on which Fairhope's practical demonstration was based. The commitment was made in the belief that “racial prejudice was a function of economic injustice” and that “the only remedy against racism is economic freedom” - but not for everyone. Whitfield's father was pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Point Clear for 35 years. They lived in Mobile and he said that going with his father to Point Clear was “like going through a time warp”.
Dirt was often passed down from generation to generation but sometimes it wasn't legally transferred, Whitfield said. If it's not legally recorded it's all rumors leaving no foundation. That facilitates current gentrification. Developers aren't building affordable housing on this land or helping people in the communities where they shop, Hall-Black said. One day only the rich will live here.
Years ago, the city knocked down the basketball court and park for the black community he said. He suggested building a kid-friendly place on “this side of town” that everyone wants to use. Durgin said the first step is to find common ground and get the right people to talk. Gilmore teaches a class every fall on the history and purpose of the single tax colony and talks about the “bad start” of Fairhope when taxpayers with a single tax arrived here by sheer faith - they were poor when they arrived because they put everything they had to be here. The STC's biggest impact was the people it brought to Alabama's coast Turner said. Fairhope had nudist beaches in 1930s and supported women's suffrage movement.
Whitfield said freedom of thought is necessary to improve quality of life in Fairhope - The community must include segments that have been treated as “non-existent” or “less than important”.This is fourth story in five-part series - Next week is “Providing Help Even in Utopia” Think of Fairhope Single Tax Corporation as nonprofit real estate investment fund explained George Gilmore board member and trustee of Fairhope Single Tax Colony. Fairhope stands on shoulders of giants said Lee Turner president of Fairhope Single Tax Colony (STC). In 1920s Gaston's newspaper The Fairhope Courier spoke out against lynchings in Alabama and burning crosses parades and activities Ku Klux Klan in Fairhope. The story behind Fairhope, Alabama is one filled with hope and success but also one filled with untold stories about African Americans who have been part of this community for generations. From its original name as Alabama City to its current name as Fairhope, this city has gone through many changes over time - some good and some bad - but all have shaped its history into what it is today.
From its unique fiscal colony to its commitment to social justice and civil rights, Fairhope has always been a place where people can come together to make a difference in their community. Rev John Whitfield speaks about his family's experience living in Fairhope, saying that before it became what it is today it was an agrarian community with large tracts of land owned by liberated black people. This land has since been taken away from them due to gentrification and developers not building affordable housing or helping those living in these communities where they shop. Paul Gaston also speaks about his experience growing up in Fairhope, saying that his grandfather made it clear that their "white only" policy was a fundamental contradiction to their "good theory" on which their practical demonstration was based - believing that racial prejudice was a function of economic injustice and that economic freedom could be a remedy against racism - but not for everyone.
Lee Turner speaks about how Fairhope stands on shoulders giants due to its commitment to social justice even if it didn't come true at Fairhope. He also speaks about how Fairhope had nudist beaches in 1930s and supported women's suffrage movement which shows how progressive this city has always been even during difficult times. Rev John Whitfield also speaks about how freedom of thought is necessary to improve quality of life in Fairhope, saying that communities must include segments that have been treated as "non-existent" or "less than important". He suggests building a kid-friendly place on "this side of town" that everyone wants to use as well as finding common ground between different groups so they can talk together about how they can make a difference in their community.
The story behind Fairhope, Alabama is one filled with hope but also one filled with untold stories about African Americans who have been part of this community for generations. From its unique fiscal colony to its commitment to social justice and civil rights, Fairhope has always been a place where people can come together to make a difference in their community - no matter their race or background - which makes it an inspiring place for all who visit or live there.